My most anticipated release of the year, ladies and gentleman… was just as incredible as I had hoped it’d be.
I got this book at Bookcon- which was at the very beginning of summer. We are now in September, so I definitely put this book off for quite some time. But I was scared, ok? The Night Circus is a book I had “read” for the first time prior to even being part of the book community. I was younger and didn’t look at books the same way I do now. I don’t even know if I fully finished it that first time. I read it again this June. And I fell in love. It is now one of my all-time favorite books. I didn’t know if another book could ever top it for me (but The Starless Sea is definitely very close now).
I waited in line for hours at Bookcon just to snag a ticket for the ARC, and I waited in another line again to actually get the book and get it signed (!!!)*.
I finally read The Starless Sea (I decided it was about time), and let me just tell you- it was everything I needed.
*I’m still in shock that I stood next to Erin Morgenstern and barely even said a word to her cause I was nervous, but at least I got my book signed.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.
Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.
I just want to preface this by saying that this review is going to be pretty vague because the story is hard to describe without giving too much away, and I genuinely believe you should go in without knowing too much.
Let’s get on to it!
I have never been more in love with a writing style than I am with Erin Morgenstern’s. It is so beautiful. It is poetic. It is everything I want my own writing to be like. I am a huge fan of flowery writing- pretty description, details, metaphors, etc. Give it all to me. It makes my heart skip a beat. I know, I’m a nerd. But seriously, it’s so good. Trust me.
I know not everyone likes this poetic, descriptive type of writing, but Erin knows how to balance this with a fast-paced plot, so the story doesn’t feel like it’s dragging on at all the way some books with similar writing tend to do.
It is also very similar to The Night Circus in terms of writing, which I am so appreciative of. I was worried that the style that I loved so much in that book was going to change for her new release (I mean, they are almost a decade apart; people change). But it felt like I had come home when I read the first page of this book. The writing was so familiar and inviting.
Everyone who knows me and my reading tastes knows that I am a huge character-driven person. If I don’t like the characters (and I don’t mean that they’re bad people- I love a good villain; I mean that they are boring and have no development), I won’t like the story.
Erin’s characters are so far from underdeveloped. They’re all extremely complex, many of them have tons and tons of layers, and a few are morally grey (probably my favorite type of character). This story has a great diverse cast, and none of the people are really who they seem to be. You don’t know who to trust, who is telling you the truth, and who each person truly is.
I felt so connected to them and invested in their lives that I even cried a few times throughout the book. The friendships and connections that are made left me so emotional.
The cast is also diverse and we get LGBTQ+ rep!
Okay, here is where it gets really tricky to review this book: this is going to be vague but will give you just enough info to know whether this is a story for you.
The story has one main plot- it follows a guy (Zachary Ezra Rawlins) who is in college after he finds a book in his school’s library that has a story about him in it.
In between the “main story” there are also chapters of short stories (which are important to the plot). Those short stories were so interesting and written just as beautifully as the main one.
The way the story comes together to form one overarching plot is insane. It is so strategic and well thought out. You’re able to start putting together some of the pieces about halfway through, and it just all comes full circle in the end- but in a way I never expected.
It is elegant. It is quite honestly a masterpiece. I could only dream of writing a book this intricate and well done. It’s atmospheric, and it takes you on a journey through different worlds and times. It made me believe in magic all over again. You feel like you’re in a warm, adventurous dream the entire time you’re reading this.
This was without a doubt a five star read to me. I think anything Erin comes out with will always be a five-star book to me. It is not often that I come across books that make me feel the way this book did. Quite honestly, the only other book to ever make me feel this way is The Night Circus. If that intrigues you, definitely pick this one up! It comes out November 5th :)
I can’t wait for everyone to be able to experience it!
Have you read The Night Circus? Are you anticipating the release of The Starless Sea? Leave a comment letting me know!